I’ve had a Foodie first! For the first time, I took an actual cooking class…and I’ll be doing it again 🙂 When I received an all too excited phone call from my mom a few weeks ago inviting me to a cooking class in Danbury I was skeptical. It was a weeknight class, 40 minutes away from my house and I have a newborn, Grad school work, and a new full time job to attend to…in hind sight, I’m so glad I went! Chef Tom Devine was witty, funny, and food smart. The company was entertaining and were fellow-foodies. The recipes were easily executed, increasingly delicious, and a beautiful mix for meat-eaters and veggie lovers the same. Here’s my review on the Two Steps Downtown Grille and Ciao! Catering cooking class.
When we arrived at Two Steps Grille the decor just begs to order a seasonal beer and watch some Sunday football. The dark wood accents and cozy pub-like bar make you feel as though you are in an episode of Cheers and the bartender seems to already know your name. It’s warm and inviting, like you could hang out for hours, but don’t let this fool you about the menu. The dishes range from good ol’ home cooking like salad and burgers to mouth-watering dishes like long braised short ribs (a recipe I can attest for!).
We entered the upper dining room where we were greeted by smiling Sam, who we are disappointed to say is leaving the restaurant to move west, as she added a welcomed playful counteract to Chef Tom’s jokes.
We were seated with another group who we could name fellow Foodie friends by the end of the night and were immediately poured a glass of wine (my personal favorite introduction!). I was disappointed to see that it was not a hands on class, we would be watching the food be prepared, yet my reservation was quickly forgotten once my constant running around mom feet got a break and a taste of the amazing meal!
We began with Wild Mushroom Canneloni. The creamy bechamal sauce is one that I am familiar with as it is a sample in any of my lasagnas. Chef’s tip? Always use a good pan, not teflon, as when you deglaze (add liquid to a hot pan to scrape up the flavorful bits on the bottem) teflon begins to pull up, not the spice you want in your homemade pasta!
We then moved to a unique Chicken Cordon Bleu with sauteed mushrooms in a creamy dijon sauce over rice.
We traveled from land to sea with a grilled cod topped with late summer corn chowder, which I could have eaten alone, in a bowl…while licking the plate. So delicious! Sweet summer corn, fork tender potatoes, a mix of perfectly blended herds, and a dash of cream accented the salty fish perfectly. Another tip from the Chef? Buy seafood on Tuesdays, it’s the freshest day of the week. Monday is the weekends leftovers!
We ended with a braised short rib that would battle my sister-in-laws seafood salad as my request for a last supper. It was slow cooked leaving it juicy, tender, and falling off the bone. The fennel is the perfect compliment to the rich meat and although it is a Sunday supper, requiring all day observance, you’ll wow any diner with this meal! Here’s the recipe for Braised Short Ribs.
4 lbs short ribs
1 carrot coarsely chopped
2 celery stalks coarsely chopped
1 small Spanish onion coarsely chopped
Pinch of fresh chopped thyme
1 tsp fennel seed
1 bay leaf
4 cups of veal of beef stock
1/2 cup tomato puree
1/2 tsp minced garlic
2 cups good red wine (plus a glass for the cook!)
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the mirepoix (carrot, celery, onion mix, a staple in many recipes) and thyme. Cook until the vegetables soften and add the garlic until lightly browned. Add the tomato and cook for 2 minutes. Add the bay leaf and cook for 3 minutes. Add the red wine and bring to a boil (watch the flames when adding alcohol to a hot pan, especially over a gas stove top!). Lower the heat and add the stock.
Season the short ribs generously with salt and pepper. Heat EVOO in a pan over medium high heat and brown the ribs in batches and transfer to a roasting pan. Add the stock mixture over the top.
Cover and cook in the oven for 2 hours. Remove the foil, turn the ribs and cook for another 2 hours, turning ribs every 1/2 hour.
Remove the ribs from the pan and strain the liquid, skim the fat off the top. Return the liquid to the stove top to heat and thicken. Use this as your sauce and enjoy the fruits (or meats) of you labor!
What a wonderful evening for a new mom’s night out! I couldn’t have enjoyed it more and I’ll definitely be returning. To check out upcoming classes, visit their class website or email Chef Tom at email@example.com. Follow them on Facebook for upcoming events or information on how to have them cook for your next event. Thanks to the whole crew at Two Steps and we look forward to seeing you again!
Until then…Eat Well,
Stephanie a.k.a. The Foodetarian